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The newly launched GoRiC System will enable transformation

The Department of Risk and Compliance, in collaboration with the Department of Information and Communication Technology (ICT), recently launched the Governance, Risk and Compliance (GoRiC) System on the theme Towards a Risk-Informed Institution in an ODeL/Digitalised Space. The system was designed and developed to align with Unisa’s ODeL strategy.

Zipphora Mamabolo

In his opening address, Zolani Gxekwa, Unisa’s ICT Project Manager, briefly spoke on the GoRiC System’s journey, indicating that, among others, it was designed to automate the enterprise risk management, compliance, business continuity management and governance processes of the university.

Speaking from a governance perspective, Zipphora Mamabolo, Executive Director of Risk and Compliance, said: "When an organisation establishes a strategy, it must do a risk assessment to see how it would achieve its organisational targets.” Mamabolo assured that Unisa, as a comprehensive, open distance e-learning institution, takes risk and compliance seriously. Hence it came up with a risk appetite and risk tolerance framework to monitor the institution’s key risk indicators. Noting that the GoRiC System needs human drivers to utilise it, she remarked: "Let us manage and assess our risks through this system."

Moses Segaetsho, Executive Director of Unisa’s ICT Governance, Risk and Compliance, spoke from an ICT governance perspective and highlighted that most organisations find themselves in chaotic situations beyond governance, risk, and compliance (GRC) space. According to Segaetsho, the chaos is caused by, among others, duplication, wasted resources and unnecessary complexities. He reiterated the significance of having a sustainable GoRiC System and an optimised GRC. He explained: "Some benefits of optimised GRC are having a unified vocabulary and taxonomies for information, sustained and reliable performance and delivery of value, and meaningful cost savings within integrated capabilities."

Driving the institution into risk intelligence

University of Johannesburg’s Professor of Accounting and Chair in 4IR Initiatives AICPA-CIMA Regional Engagement Group - Africa, Tankiso Moloi, delivered a keynote address focusing on Marrying Technology and Governance in the African Context – Higher Education Sector Perspective. He referred to some economics and finance concepts, such as the Agency Theory, mentioning that they also apply to governance and risk management. Referring to the King IV Report on Corporate Governance, which, among others, promotes good governance, Moloi reiterated that its premise is ethical leadership and encouraged organisations to apply it.

Prof Tankiso Moloi

Explaining the importance of digital transformation in institutions of higher learning, he said that it is a broad concept as institutions deliberately undertake a process to improve themselves by triggering significant changes. He stated: "This is done through a combination of information, computing, and connective technologies." Moloi further explained that digital transformation should be part of strategic initiatives that receive high-level attention. "Risks are enablers of strategy, so in a digitally transformed ecosystem, each strategic initiative should have sufficient and reliable data site," he maintained.

Moloi turned his attention to the responsibilities of risk managers, indicating that they must instil risk culture and drive the institution into risk intelligence. "A risk intelligent institution is when its people are conscious of risks and their dynamics, and of the swiftly changing nature of the data that informs risks." Moloi encouraged institutions to upskill their system users and applauded Unisa for introducing a system informed by its needs.

Understanding the GoRiC System

Prof Khehla Ndlovu

Unisa’s Bhuti Mbele, ICT Business Consultant and GoRiC System Architect demonstrated how the GoRiC System works. He remarked that risk management is about monitoring the ongoing risks at the university in terms of controls, actions, and ratings. Morongwa Makgamatho, Unisa’s Change Management Specialist, shared the institution’s envisaged change management interventions. She encouraged staff members to take up the change agent role so that they could be drivers of change. She further assured that training and capacity building would be provided for change agents.

In his closing remarks, Unisa’s Prof Khehla Ndlovu, Vice Principal of Strategy, Risk and Advisory Services, focused on How the GoRiC tool aligns with Unisa’s Transformation Agenda. He said that the GoRiC System, as an enabler of transformation, assists the university in achieving its transformation drivers and dimensions, including staff equity, development and work experience, governance, leadership and management, and the eradication of working in silos. He concluded: "Leaders should lead by example, instil confidence and empower staff to achieve a common goal."

* By Nancy Legodi, Acting Journalist, Department of Institutional Advancement

Publish date: 2022/09/13